One of the new measures in the Australian Government Budget for 2017/2018 is expanded funding for Regional Study Hubs. These are community-owned facilities where students studying by distance education can meet with tutors and other students. As a distance education student myself I felt a need to meet other students face to face. This was noticed decades ago shortly after the Open University UK started correspondence courses: students sought out each other and booked rooms at the nearest educational institution.
The budget has funded 500 sub‑bachelor
and 500 bachelor students. It is good to see the inclusion of sub-degree programs, as these are very useful for distance education students, who tend to take longer and drop out more frequently. The regional study hubs have some similarities to the government programs supporting regional tele-centers of the 1990s.
In 2000 I visited the University of WA Albany centre, where as well as the usual STEM subjects, there was a groups of students having a poetry reading via teleconference.